‘Maryland Farm & Harvest’ celebrates series run with special 10th anniversary episode

WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes 10 years of 'Maryland Farm & Harvest' (Part 1)

For a decade, “Maryland Farm & Harvest” has been a staple of Maryland Public Television.

On Tuesday, it airs a special 10th anniversary episode for its season finale at 7 p.m. on MPT.

“It really is about paying tribute to not only the farmers and our farming community but to the folks here at MPT who have brought this series to viewers over the past decade,” Series Producer Robert Ferrier told WTOP. “Host Joanne [Clendining], Al Spoler and past show producers get together to talk about their favorite moments. … A stroll down memory lane.”

A decade ago, the Maryland Department of Agriculture approached the show’s creator Michael English about creating a new nonfiction series that would spotlight local farmers.

“In the beginning, no one really knew how the show would go,” Ferrier said. “People were like, ‘Are people really going to find corn growing interesting?’ But I think the show’s creator and early producers realized that it’s not about the crops … it’s about the lives, it’s about telling the stories of the people who are doing this — and that’s what resonated with viewers.”

More than 15 million viewers have watched the 127 episodes since its fall 2013 debut.

“If this series does anything at all, it’s to make people aware of where their food comes from,” Ferrier said. “When they drive past those bucolic farm fields, amber waves of grain, if you will, a lot of people have no idea what goes on the other side of that field. This show pulls back the curtain on the world of agriculture and lets people in on these hardworking people.”

Indeed, it’s backbreaking work starting well before dawn and lasting well after dusk.

“I’m a television producer; I could never be a farmer, are you kidding me?” Ferrier said. “They are the hardest working people, dedicated 24/7, 365 days a year. They never stop because the work doesn’t stop. I just have mad respect for these folks and anything I can do to turn a spotlight on them and allow their stories out there … it’s just an honor for me to do that.”

The series has visited over 400 farms, fisheries, wineries and other agriculture-related locations during its 10 seasons, covering all 23 Maryland counties plus Baltimore and D.C.

“It’s important to give viewers a cross-section of the state,” Ferrier said. “We’ve done 118 stories on the Eastern Shore, over 50 in Western Maryland, the same in Southern Maryland. … 14 stories in Prince George’s County, 21 stories in Montgomery County … Our bread basket — Washington, Frederick, Carroll counties — you can’t throw a stone and not hit a farm.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes 10 years of 'Maryland Farm & Harvest' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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